As I write this, I am on an airplane flying to the NMCA All-American Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. The inside of an airplane is not a very unfamiliar place to me these days. Between covering and announcing events, I spend a lot of time in the sky. It is a life I would not want to trade for anything and a life that I don’t think I would have believed I could lead 15 years ago. In fact, I did not believe it was possible back then until I had a conversation with a friend which I still think back on today. I bring this up because it is a conversation that I think everyone should have at some point, especially if you have goals or aspirations with your car, with your career, with events you’d like to race at or attend, etc.
Ask yourself “Why?” ... a lot.
Seriously, try it. Pick something that you have always wanted to do (it helps if you stay within reason, here) and ask yourself why. You’ll come up with a reason that you have not done it or might not do it. Ask again. You’ll do the same thing. Ask again. If by the third time you have not gotten frustrated with the fact that you are telling yourself that you are incapable of doing the things you want, this whole experiment is lost on you.
In my case, a friend asked why I had not pursued a full-time career in motorsports. I explained a set of very logical-sounding hurdles to him. He asked why again. I added some new hurdles to the equation to really prove to him that it was impossible. Finally, he asked why again and in an exasperated state I told him that I just flat-out didn’t know why I had not done it. That’s when it landed on me like a pallet of bricks.
I had sold myself on this idea that there was just too much in the way and so much to overcome that I’d never do it. I was really mad at myself, and while it did not happen overnight, I was able to take the recurring lessons of that conversation and apply them to my life, in many ways bringing me to where I sit today.
You want to put a turbo on your car? Why haven’t you done it? It sounds callous and flip to suggest that it is just that easy because it isn’t and I know that. The process has to start somewhere. Remember, the title here is Whys and Hows. So let’s get to that part.
The Hows in this situation are where the rubber meets the road. The good news for you is that after you get past the whys, the hows are suddenly far clearer. Instead of recognizing roadblocks as insurmountable, you see them as obstacles to be overcome. For me, one of the reasons that I felt as though a career in motorsports was not possible centered around the fact that I had a mortgage and kids and a wife that had the pesky habit of eating every day. I didn’t think I’d be able to earn the income I needed. That’s when I set my jaw, put my foot down and started asking for the money I knew I was worth instead of just what someone was willing to throw at me. I discovered a how because of the why. How would I pull this off? I’d make more money. It was not that simple, of course, and I had more than a few doors slammed in my face with laughter when promoters got the price, but it was the only way this was going to work.
You want to put a turbo on your car but you can’t fabricate the cold and hot side of the thing to make it fit? You lack the funds to pay someone to do it? Do you have an applicable skill in your life? Are you a tradesman that can call someone and offer a trade out? You’ll get laughed off the phone more than a couple of times until you find the fabricator who is indeed looking for new flooring in his kitchen, the pipes in his house fixed, or trees trimmed away from his home. Sure, laugh and tell me I’m crazy! I’m not. I know an exhaust guy that has traded out work for everything under the sun. Why? Because he’s an exhaust guy, not a floor guy, a plumber, or an arborist.
The world of hot rodding is amazing because we are surrounded with people who share our passion for cars but largely do not share our day-to-day lives. We all come from different places, do different things, and have different motivations, but the one thing we all understand is what these cars mean to us. That’s the binding factor.
So what’s the bottom line here? At the end of the day the largest obstacle to attaining our goals whether they revolve around our cars or our lives is us. Instead of having some sort of defeatist attitude or knee-jerk reaction when you come upon something you want to accomplish that seems out of reach, test yourself. Double down on the whys until you get angry for not trying and then concentrate on the hows to make it happen. It ain’t easy, but by God it sure is fun!
About the Author: Brian Lohnes is an NHRA National Event Staff Announcer, host of Motor Trend OnDemand’s Put Up or Shut Up, and co-owner of Bangshift.com.